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Statewide MJ Initiative Backers Lose Court Ruling

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Colorado -- Sponsors of a statewide measure to legalize marijuana for adults suffered a major setback this afternoon when a Denver judge rejected their challenge to a voter information booklet stating that Amendment 44 would make it legal to give pot to minors.
The measure’s backers had asked Denver District Court Judge John McMullen to halt the Thursday printing of the voter information booklet, which will be sent to 2 million Colorado households. They argued that the Legislative Council had included false information about the marijuana measure while writing what's supposed to be an impartial analysis for voters.

But McMullen agreed with an assertion by the Legislative Council’s attorney, Richard Kaufman, who cited Colorado Supreme Court precedent stating that courts have no jurisdiction in the Legislative Council’s wording of the booklet because that is a legislative process, protected by the Colorado Constitution’s separation of powers clause. McMullen said a court could only take up a legal challenge after the amendment was voted on.

The measure's sponsors had no immediate comment about whether they’d appeal the ruling or take other legal action.

"I’m going to make it clear the great lengths that our government has gone to to lie to the voters of this state about the effects of this initiative," said Mason Tvert, campaign director of initiative sponsor, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation.

The amendment, which qualified to be on the Nov. 7 ballot, would allow adults age 21 or older to possess less than an ounce of marijuana without legal repercussions.

But because giving less than an ounce of marijuana to someone without payment is defined as a "possession" violation under state law, federal drug agents and other opponents of the measure, persuaded the Legislative Council to state in the voter booklet that Amendment 44 would allow adults to give marijuana to youngsters between the ages of 15 and 17, as long as it wasn’t sold. It would remain illegal for any minor to accept or possess marijuana.

Supporters of the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative argued that the booklet language is false and misleading, because the state law against contributing to the delinquency of a minor would still make it a felony to encourage or aid anyone under 18 to possess or use marijuana — or violate any federal or state laws.

Complete Title: Statewide Marijuana Initiative Backers Lose Court Ruling

Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Author: Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News
Published: September 13, 2006
Copyright: 2006, Denver Publishing Co.
 

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